The human body has limited regenerative abilities. However, other vertebrates such as salamanders have the ability to regenerate body parts such as their legs and tail. However, this ability still pales in comparison to the regenerative ability of Planaria. Planaria have the ability to regenerate their entire body structure including their Central Nervous System from a 1/279 slice of their original body. Their regenerative ability has been studied extensively for the past 200 years. However, with the creation of next generation sequencing and our new knowledge of RNAi activity, Planaria regeneration can now be studied on a molecular level. Because Planaria have a small body size and has 4 diploid chromosomes, they can be easily studied in large populations at a relatively low cost. They also share similar functional proteins with humans and can be easily studied in vivo using RNA interference administered through injection or introducing RNA double strands to the media. This allows us to place chemical markers on the proteins necessary for the regeneration of specific Planaria body structures. Planaria serve as a model organism that contains a large amount of adult pluripotent stem cells. In terms of the next generation of medicine, studying the chemical and biological basis for Planaria regeneration can enable us to discover potential pathways for human cell regeneration.
This research article was very interesting because it specifically names several proteins in the Wnt/β-catenin pathway that can be altered using RNA interference to cause different effects in the regeneration of Planaria. Given the improvements in sequencing technology and RNAi experimentation, we can now identify specific proteins and pathways that cause the regeneration of specific body structures. Needless to say, this is extremely important in the study of cell regeneration as well as the future of human medicine.
Gentile, Luca, Francesc Cebrià, and Kerstin Bartscherer. “The Planarian Flatworm: An in Vivo Model for Stem Cell Biology and Nervous System Regeneration.” Disease Models & Mechanisms 4.1 (2011): 12–19. PMC. Web. 19 Oct. 2017.
The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. “Planarian.” Encyclopædia Britannica, Encyclopædia Britannica, inc., 25 Apr. 2016, www.britannica.com/animal/planarian.